Templar, also called Knight Templar, member of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, a religious military order of knighthood established during the time of the Crusades that became a model and inspiration for other military orders. Originally founded to defend Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land, the order assumed greater military functions throughout the twelfth century. Its importance and the growing wealth, however, has provoked opposition from rival orders. Falsely accused of blasphemy and blamed for failures crusaders in the Holy Land, the order was destroyed by King Philip IV of France. A mounted Templar charging into battle, detail of the frescoes in the Templar chapel at Cressac, France.

The Knights Templar, a Crusading order of Christian knights, amassed great wealth. A mounted Templar charging into battle, detail of the frescoes in the Templar chapel at Cressac, France. ©, Gianni Dagli Orti\/Corbis. Overview of the Templars. Contunico ©, ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz. After the success of the First Crusade, a number of Crusader states was established in the Holy Land, but the kingdom lacks the necessary military forces to maintain a tenuous hold on their territories. Most Crusaders returned home after fulfilling their vows, and Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem suffered attacks from Muslim raiders. Pitying the plight of those Christians, eight or 9 French knights led by Hugh de Payns vowed in late 1119 or early 1120 to devote themselves to the pilgrims protection and also to form a religious community for that purpose.

Baldwin II, king of Jerusalem, gave them quarters in a wing of the Royal Palace in the area of the ancient temple of Solomon, and from this they derived their name. Templar chapel in Chwarszczany, Pol. Templar chapel in Chwarszczany, Pol. Jan Jerszyski. Even though the Templars were opposed by people who rejected the idea of a religious military order and later by people who criticized their wealth and influence, they were supported by many secular and religious leaders. Starting from 1127, Hugh undertook a tour of Europe and was well received by many nobles, who made significant donation to the knights. The Templars obtained further sanction at the Council of Troyes in 1128, which can have requested that Bernard of Clairvaux compose the new rule. Bernard also wrote In Praise of the New Knighthood, which defended the order against its critics and contributed to its growth. In 1139 Pope Innocent II issued a bull which granted special privileges order: the Templars were allowed to build their very own oratories and weren’t required to pay the tithe, they were exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, being subject to the pope alone.